assets would require considerable upgrading of the national database in these areas. This section addresses issues related to data collection and design.
As noted in Chapters 3 and 4, much valuable information necessary for integrated environmental and economic accounts is already collected by the federal government and is potentially available to BEA. Extensive information is available in federal agencies on physical stocks and values of economically important natural resources, including subsoil minerals, energy, timber, commercial fisheries, and land. BEA's preliminary work on the Phase I accounts made use of existing data on the physical quantities and market values of such natural-resource assets. However, much of the data necessary for developing environmental accounts is currently unavailable or insufficient. One important step, therefore, would be to undertake a focused effort to increase and improve the data necessary for this work. Without significant improvement in this area, development of a full set of empirically based environmental accounts would be impossible.
Fortunately, much of the information needed to construct and maintain environmental accounts would also be useful to other federal agencies with resource management responsibilities. This is particularly the case for natural assets under federal stewardship. For example, better information on the value of minerals on federal lands and the net value of minerals extracted from federal lands would be useful in determining appropriate royalty rates and patenting policies for resources not allocated through competitive auctions. The same information would be useful to BEA in constructing environmental accounts for exhaustible natural resources.
In the case of renewable resources, better information on the stumpage value of timber in national forests would be useful not only for accounting purposes, but also for better management of these forests and for the difficult decisions required on the balance of different uses, including timber harvesting, wilderness preservation, watershed management, and recreation. Better information on fish stocks, depletion of fish stocks, and resource values net of extraction costs would be valuable to the National Marine Fisheries Service and to the Fisheries Management Councils and would also support U.S. negotiations in international fishing treaties. These agencies have been hamstrung in their efforts to prevent overfishing by a lack of reliable information on changes in stocks of commercial fisheries and on the dissipation of fisheries rents.
In the case of environmental resources such as air and water quality,